A Guide to the Charles City County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894 Charles City County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894 0007506919

A Guide to the Charles City County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007506919


Library of Virginia

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© 2012 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Ed Jordan

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Charles City County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894
Physical Characteristics
.35 cu. ft. (1 box)
Charles City County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Charles City County (Va.) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894. Local government records collection, Charles City County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court records from Charles City County.

Historical Information

Charles City County was named for King Charles I and was one of the original shires, or counties, first enumerated in 1634. The county seat is Charles City. Part of James City County was added to Charles City in 1721.

The separate office of coroner appeared in Virginia about 1660. The judicial duty of the office is to hold inquisitions in cases when persons meet sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious death, or death without medical attendance. The coroner would summon a jury to assist him in determining cause of death. Prior to November 1877, the jurors numbered twelve. Between November 1877 and March 1926, the jurors numbered six. The jury viewed the body of the deceased and heard the testimony of witnesses. The coroner was required to write down witness testimony. After seeing and hearing the evidence, the jury delivered in writing to the coroner their conclusion concerning cause of death referred to as the inquisition. After March 1926, only the coroner determined cause of death. He could require physicians to assist him with determing cause of death. If a criminal act was determined to be the cause of death, the coroner was to deliver the guilty person to the sheriff and the coroners' inquests would be used as evidence in the criminal trial.

Records have been destroyed at various times. The most damage occurred during the Civil War when the records were strewn through the woods in a rainstorm. A few pre-Civil War volumes such as deed books, will books, minute books, and order books exist.

Scope and Content

Charles City County (Va) Coroners' Inquisitions, 1834-1894, are investigations into the deaths of individuals who died by a sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious manner, or died without medical attendance. Causes of death found in coroners' inquisitions include murder, infanticide, suicide, domestic violence, exposure to elements, drownings, train accidents, automobile accidents, and natural causes, or as commonly referred to in the 19th century, visitation by God. Documents commonly found in coroners' inquests include the inquisition, depositions, and summons. Criminal papers such as recognizance bonds can be found in coroner inquisitions. Information found in the inquisition include the name of the coroner, the names of the jurors, the name and age of the deceased if known, gender and race of the deceased, and when, how, and by what means the deceased came to his or her death. If the deceased was African American, the inquest would identify the deceased as a slave or free person if known. If the deceased was a slave, the inquest would include, if known, the name of the slaveowner and the slaveowner's residence. Information found in the depositions include the name of the deponent and his or her account of the circumstances that led to the death of the deceased. Slaves were deponents in coroner investigations.


Chronological by date coroner filed inquisition in the court.

Related Material

See the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection available at Virginia Memory.

For more information and a listing of lost records localities see Lost Records research note .

Index Terms

Adjunct Descriptive Data

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

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Selected Coroners' Inquisitions of Interest

1870 April 21, Death of Alex Bowman:

Came to his death from wounds inflicted upon his person with a rake in the hands of Christianna Adkins with Nancy Bowman and John Adkins as accessories, and one stab wound to the shoulder inflicted with a knife in the hands of a person unknown.

1884 March 28, Death of Watson Ennis:

Death was caused by his horse overthrowing the cart and falling upon him.